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F-35 costs 'virtually unchanged'-Pentagon Report

April 1, 2008 (by Eric L. Palmer) - The news service Reuters has obtained a Pentagon document which states that F-35 costs have been "virtually unchanged" over the past year.

Cost news, landing gear test and new center fuselage built

F-35 officials are now reviewing costs and seeking an independent estimate.

This comes at a time when the U.S. Government Accounting Office (GAO), issued a report Monday that brings into question the health of many U.S. weapons programs. The GAO found that 95 major systems have exceeded their original budgets by a total of $295 billion, bringing their total cost to $1.6 trillion, and are delivered almost two years late on average. In addition, none of the systems that the GAO looked at had met all of the standards for best management practices during their development stages.

Lockheed spokesman Tom Jurkowsky said the F-35 program was performing well and making good technical progress, given that it was the most complex aircraft ever built.

"Affordability and cost-containment have been both the bedrock and the cornerstone of the F-35 program," he said, noting expenses were monitored "with unprecedented frequency and rigor."

In other news today, an F-35 flight test was performed to try out an alternate landing gear configuration. The test was successful and included limited steering. After the aircraft finished it's landing, it was towed the rest of the way back to the hanger.

Lastly, Northrop Grumman Corporation has begun assembling the center fuselage for the first production Lightning II jet, a weight-optimized, U.S. Air Force F-35A conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) variant designated AF-6. The center fuselage is the core structure around which the F-35 aircraft is built.

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